Looked outside the window lately? The forecast for Weather Report fans has been sunny this month. On October 1, the two-CD set Live and Unreleased hit stores. Performances from 1975 to 1983 are captured in the collection and you’ll find all of the group’s signature songs. The release was produced with the full cooperation of Joe Zawinul and Wayne Shorter, making this the first official Weather Report album in over 15 years.
Joe’s new solo release, Faces and Places made its U.S. debut in mid-September. The CD is the perfect blending of world music and jazz. You won’t believe that Joe is 70 years of age when you hear how this music moves. Joe’s plugged-in sound, combined with the world influences, makes for one of the best jazz listening experiences this year.
Faces and Places is out on ESC Records, which is also releasing Victor Bailey’s new solo effort in the U.S. this week. Victor was Weather Report’s bassist when the group dissolved in the mid-80s but continued his relationship with Joe in the Zawinul Syndicate and beyond. That’s Right has a top-notch band – Omar Hakim, Bill Evans, Jim Beard, Dean Brown, Lenny White, and Bennie Maupin. I haven’t heard the CD, but I’ve very interested in one of the tracks that ESC’s web site describes. On “Black on the Bach,” Bailey overdubs four tracks of interlocking bass parts – arpeggios, solos, counterpoint, call-and-response -to merge J.S. Bach and the blues. That, in addition to Bailey’s established playing ability and the calibre of other musicians on this CD, will make me consider buying this CD without even a sample listen.
I saw Liquid Soul in concert at the Kansas City Blues and Jazz Festival three years ago. I had never heard of the band before. My wife and I were sitting on the lawn enjoying the day of music when the group hit the stage around 6 p.m. I wasn’t sitting after about 30 seconds. The sheer power of the sound this funk ensemble put forth was unbelievable. Brassy horns, deep bass, jazz guitar, DJ – this was a tight group and knew how to lay out a groove and work the crowd. Two minutes into the show, I gave my wife some money and asked her to buy every Liquid Soul thing she could find. It remains one of the top concerts that I have ever seen.
Though there’s nothing like seeing them live, the band’s new CD, Evolution doesn’t hold anything back. You’ll hear it from the start, with the punchy “Action Jackson”. You’ll be dancing to “I Was Meant To Be Rich.” You’ll be jumping around the room when James “Squeeze” Taylor hands off his rap to the horns on “Soul.” The band keeps the music moving, rarely slowing down (it sounds like an attempt at a slower tempo was made on “Bossa Interlude” but that’s scratched at under a minute). The only problem is that I can’t listen to the CD at work since I end up spinning around in my chair and unable to focus on my projects.
Do yourself a favor and see Liquid Soul live. They’ll be in Iowa, Colorado, Utah, and their home state of Illinois (the band hails from Chicago) the rest of this month and the tour continues through next month.
The CD has been out for a month, but if you haven’t picked up the Dave Weckl Band’s Perpetual Motion CD, you’re missing out on another good release by this consistent group. Weckl and his band always put out a great collection of jammin’ tunes. The group has seemed to make any easy transition from keyboardist/composer Jay Oliver (Dave’s longtime collaborator) to Steve Weingart. Weingart really makes his presence known on Perpetual Motion, writing or co-writing all of the music except for Brandon Fields’ “Skipper”. Bassist Tom Kennedy completes the quartet and co-wrote the kickin’ final track “Tiempo de Festival”.
This is the first CD that I can recall that has the band utilizing wordless vocals. Hussain Jiffry and Sanjay Divecha really add a new and welcome element to “Mesmer-Eyes” and “Child’s Play” (the latter features Dave’s little girl, Claire, making her singing debut). The horn trio of Jerry Hey, Gary Grant, and Bill Reichenbach make their mark, joining Fields on three songs, including the first track “Double Up”. Congratulations to the band on another job well done.
Marcus Miller is releasing what he calls an “Official Bootleg CD”. The Ozell Tapes features performances from Marcus’ 2002 tour with no remixing or editing. Having seen a show on the tour, I can guarantee you that finding this CD will be worth your while. It should already be out in Japan and will be in Europe and available for ordering online later this week. For more information and updates, check out Edi Weitz’s MarcusMiller.com site, where Marcus contributes frequently. . . Stanley Jordan‘s 1985 release, Magic Touch, was certified gold on August 27, meaning that it has sold over 500,000 copies. . . The jazz/gospel fusion that Kirk Whalum displayed on his underappreciated Gospel According to Jazz, Chapter One will be back for a second volume. The Gospel According to Jazz, Chapter Two will be in stores on October 29. George Duke and Paul Jackson, Jr. return and are joined by Jonathan Butler. The CD was recorded live and KirkWhalum.com reports that a DVD/VHS version should be coming soon.
After God knows how many albums, Bob James still has a few surprises up his sleeve. You’ll hear it the second you put in his upcoming CD Morning, Noon & Night. That’s not skipping – that’s the awesome scratches of Rob Swift. Unfortunately, it’s the only track that features Rob. The rest of the CD features of a variety of music, from smooth jazz to acoustic sounds. However, I insist that Bob do a whole CD of music that sounds like “Street Smart”. The CD hits stores on September 24.